March 19, 2009

Lunch at Murata with Miso Soup

My father and I took in the Portland Japanese Gardens today, with a break for lunch at Restaurant Murata. The Gardens are beginning to show the first signs of Spring. But about that lunch....

Restaurant Murata is one of Portland's better Japanese restaurants. It's located in the 200 Market Building at...wait for it...200 Market Street, across from the Keller and next to Carafe, which will be the subject of a future blog, but I digress. There's a full menu at lunchtime, with Murata-san and a helper working the sushi bar. I chose a special with two entrées: sashimi and nigiri sushi.

[caption id="attachment_23" align="alignleft" width="112" caption="Sunomono and Asahi"]Sunomono and Asahi[/caption]

Lunch began with sunomono, and I had beer, of course. The sunomono was cucumbers.

[caption id="attachment_24" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Chrysanthemum, Dikon, and Soup"]Chrysanthemum, Dikon, and Soup[/caption]

Next course included miso soup, pickled dikon, and sesame chrysanthemum.



Sushi and Sashimi

The main course was sashimi—tako and tuna—and sushi, with rice to round out the meal. The meal cost $15.50, and the beer was $4.95. Rather reasonable for high-quality, hand-made sushi and sashimi.



Miso Soup

Miso soup is dead easy to make. First, make a good dashi (stock).

Take a sheet of kombu (dried kelp), wipe it off, and put it into a non-reactive pan with a quart of cold water. You can let it sit up to overnight if you wish, but at least 30 minutes is necessary. Put the pot onto the heat and slowly bring it to the point where the water shivers and remove the kombu. Add 100 grams or so of katsuo-bushi (dried bonito) flakes and allow the water to come to a boil. Skim any foam from the surface and stop the heat. Strain the stock through cheese cloth or a fine sieve, reserving the katsuo-bushi for your favorite feline.

While you're waiting for the dashi to come to temperature, prepare some bowls with your favorite tofu, cut into bite-size pieces, and add green onions or sea vegetables or whatever else is at hand (enoki mushrooms—mmm). To the dashi, add miso to taste. I prefer about half-and-half red and white miso. Stir  and pour into the bowl. Eat right now. Don't wait. Eat it all, it doesn't pay to reheat it.

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